With its plot focusing on Charlie's love for a blind flower-seller and his attempts to get enough money to pay for an eye operation, City Lights edges dangerously close to the weepie wonderland of Magnificent Obsession and other lace-handkerchief jobs. This horrid fate is narrowly avoided by bracing doses of slapstick (the heroine unravels Charlie's vest thinking it's her ball of wool) and Chaplin's supreme delicacy in conveying all shades of human feeling. Matters aren't helped by the film's structure, which is as tattered and baggy as the tramp's trousers. But there are plenty of great moments, and the occasional comic use of sound (despite its date, the film is silent) is beautifully judged.
Cast and crew
Charles Chaplin Virginia Cherrill Florence Lee Harry Myers Allan Garcia Hank Mann